Home » Tips & Tricks » Storing Beef Jerky

Storing Beef Jerky

This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). Thank you for supporting the work I put into this site!

One of the top questions that I always am asked is “how long does jerky stay good?” The simple answer is 1-2 months for homemade jerky and 1 year for commercial jerky. Now with that said, don’t go leaving an open bag of jerky sitting in the sun and expect it to last 2 months.

The reason jerky even came about was to solve a problem of keeping a protein source edible for long periods of time when food was not available. Dehydrating meat removes moisture so that bacterial or fungal enzymes cannot react with the meat which in turn preserves it from spoiling. What started as a Native American process of preserving meat for necessity has evolved into great tasting snack food. Let’s take a look at what impacts the shelf life of your jerky.

1. Lean Meat – Fat is the enemy when it comes to making jerky. Fat will spoil fast and make the jerky go rancid quicker than it would if there wasn’t fat. Purchase lean meat and trim all visible fat before drying.

2. Cure – Most commercial producers use a cure consisting of sodium nitrite to extend the life of their jerky to 1 year. This prevents bacteria that could survive in meat that is only dried and not cooked. It is not a requirement to use a cure and most homemade recipes do not include one. This is why you will heat homemade jerky to 160° F, allowing your jerky to stay bacteria free without a cure.

If you want to include a cure in your recipe, a popular cure you can purchase at your local supermarket would be Morton® Tender Quick®. I personally use Prague Powder #1 which I purchase online. This includes Sodium Nitrite which will aid in preservation. When using a cure, you will notice that it gives jerky that red color you often experience from store bought products. It will also alter the taste, giving it that beef jerky flavor everyone is familiar with.

Prague Powder #1

3. Drying – The longer you dry jerky the longer it will last. However, over drying jerky will result in it being extremely chewy. So dry jerky to a desired texture and concentrate on the storage techniques listed below to lengthen your jerky life.

4. Storage (lack of oxygen) – One of the main reasons that commercial beef jerky stays good for so long is because they make sure there is no oxygen in their finished product packaging. This is normally done by shooting nitrogen into their packages to flush out the oxygen before inserting the jerky and sealing. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have nitrogen laying around the house for jerky making! So here are the best practices you can do when storing your jerky to keep it fresh longer.

  •  Allow to cool for several hours before storing in air tight containers. -or-
  • Storing for a day or two in a paper bag allows the jerky to expel any existing moisture which will help it last longer. This can be done before storing in an air tight container.
  • Add food grade oxygen absorbers to your plastic bag or canning jar. Eliminating the oxygen in your package helps prevent bacteria growth, extending the shelf life of your jerky.
  •  Use vacuum packaging to extract oxygen in order to prevent spoilage. Vacuum sealers can be purchased relatively inexpensive and they work great for storing homemade jerky. If you are a hunter like myself, more than likely you already have one of these in your pantry. I use mine all the time for game meat and fish. It really extends the life of your catch.

FoodSaver V2244 Vacuum Sealer

  •  Store in dark, cool places like a pantry. Do not leave jerky in direct sunlight as this can cause condensation within the bag which could result in mold. A little fogging is okay, but if water droplets appear inside your jerky bag; remove jerky and dehydrate longer. Water droplets lets you know that the jerky was NOT dried long enough.
  • If wanting to keep jerky for longer than 1-2 months, you can freeze it for up to 6 months. Freezing can alter the taste of jerky and I personally don’t recommend it. A better practice is to make smaller batches and eat within a month or two, rather than making a big batch and having to much jerky at once.

If you follow these steps, you can expect your homemade jerky to last between 1-2 months after initial airtight packaging. When stored in ziplock type bags in a dark pantry, jerky will last about a week; In a refrigerator, jerky will last for 1-2 weeks. If you open an airtight bag of jerky, consume that jerky within 1 week. Even though it can last 2 months in a vacuum sealed container, after opening, you are going to want to eat that jerky!

For more information, visit the USDA Webpage on Jerky and Food Safety.

Personally I don’t have a problem with keeping jerky for long periods of time because I eat it fast, real fast! I also do not make large batches as I tend to try new recipes and don’t want to get stuck with 5lbs of jerky that just doesn’t taste great. Unfortunately, not every recipe I try tastes great; but with only 1/2lb of not so great tasting jerky, I don’t mind feeding it to my parents dog and moving on to the next! The recipes put on this blog however are the recipes that passed the delicious taste test and deserved a spot on Jerkyholic.com! I never put bad tasting recipes on this blog!

You Might Also Like:

Best Cuts of Beef for Jerky

Beef Jerky Recipes

How to Make Beef Jerky with a Dehydrator

The Best Dehydrator for Making Beef Jerky



  1. Nick says:

    Hey jerky man,
    Have a quick question for ya. I made some jerky the other day and used bottom round and hi mountain seasoning and cure. Did everything to exact spec and smoked the jerky. My only problem is that it looks like there is still a lot of fat in the jerky. Like there was too much inside marbling. The jerky texture seems perfect but the fat is noticeably not correct. If smoked any longer I feel the meat will become crunchy and dry. Any tips?

    • Will says:

      Hey Nick, thanks for stopping by! Bottom round should be a pretty lean cut and normally works great for jerky. I am surprised that it has a lot of marbling. Smoking longer will not help get rid of visible fat. The only time you can get rid of that is by cutting it out when slicing the meat before you marinade it. Now if you are seeing more of a glossy look to the jerky (not visible white fat), that is pretty normal. The marinade and fat does come to the surface and needs to be dried off with a paper towel. If that is what you are seeing, just wipe the strips a couple times while drying. If the texture if perfect, the jerky is perfect! Hope that helps man!

      • Jason Carstensen says:

        Hi Will,
        I was researching on how to make good Jerky and came across your page so I decided to join your site. I am new to making Jerky out of ground meat so any good suggestions will help. I just purchased my Jerky gun and should have it in a couple of days. I have one question. Can you use Mortons tender quick instead of curring salt in the recipe and if so how much?
        I harvested an Elk and 2 deer last year so I have LOTS of meat to go Tom town on.
        Please send me any recipes you have for ground venison,elk SPICY Jerky. I like it hot!!!


        • Will says:

          Hey Jason and welcome to the site! I have not used MTQ with ground jerky. When marinating meat, it says to use 1 tbsp per lb of meat. I would assume it is the same with ground meat. It might turn out a little salty though. When marinating, you don’t retain all of the MTQ where as in ground jerky you would. Maybe use a little less when making ground jerky. An elk and 2 deer will get you a lot of meat! Nice! I have a bunch recipes on the site. Even if it is for beef jerky, they seem to work great for deer as well. I have never made elk jerky… Let me know how it turns out!

          • Dave Matenbrook says:

            Great information here!
            I am also a 35 year jerky making, former butcher.
            Don’t think I’ve ever made an exact same batch. Eye of round is my go to. Even made many batches of boneless skinless chicken breast jerky. Now I’m going to try pork tenderloin jerky. I use a pellet smoker & smoke tube. I also hang my jerky when smoking. Base recipe is Brown sugar, salt, Pepper, chili, onion & garlic powder. Water, Worcestershire, and a little liquid smoke. I marinate at least 16 hrs. One trick I’ve learned is after smoking 4 to 5 hrs at 165°, I soak my jerky in hot tap water for 20 minutes after, then pat and air dry. Makes eye of round even more tender but still chewy. Get many compliments. Smoke on!

        • Elizabeth LaPointe says:

          If you like SPICY I mixed beef strips with store bought Sambal Olek fresh ground chili paste, a little soy sauce, garlic minced with a little piece of fresh ginger & a little sesame oil & marinated for 24hours. That fresh ground chili paste is to die for… i patted it dry & dehydrated.

      • Clifford L Terry says:

        Hello Will,

        I notice that in a lot of the photos your finished jerky has a nice reddish color to it. I have been making jerky for many years and have pretty well perfected the flavor to my liking, but my finished jerky has a very dark color to it.
        I don’t think I am drying it too long as the texture is good. Is there something I am missing as to why mine has such a dark color? I have been trying to get my jerky to look as much like the bought jerky such as Jack Link’s as possible. Any suggestions?

        • Will says:

          That red color comes from curing salt. I have a link to the one I use on every recipe on the site. Go to a recipe and If you click the ‘go to recipe card’ button at the top of the page it will take you to the recipe card where I have a link to it. I would link it here but I’m on my phone and can’t.

    • Kurt says:

      When making jerky I use 1 quarter teaspoon of curing salt per pound of meat but I don’t add any more salt. My marinade has soy sauce, liquid smoke and Worcester sauce which all contain salt. A friend of mine made some jerky that was way,way to salty so I didn’t want to make that mistake. Really enjoy the tips I have found on your site Will.

  2. Jeanne says:

    Hi Will. I’m thinking like a prepper and wanting a jerky that will last a long time so it can be put aside for emergency purposes. Is there any way or thing I can do to make it last longer.

    • Will says:

      Hey Jeanne! I would follow all of the tips listed above. Definitely use cure, trim all visible fat, and vacuum seal the bag. Store bought jerky has oxygen absorbers they put in their packets to help the jerky last longer. Big Jerky Distributors also shoot Nitrogen in the bag to flush out oxygen when packaging their jerky. Not sure where you can get nitrogen for this, but might be worth looking into if you really want your jerky to last a long time!

      • Ben Gover says:

        Go to Amazon they sell Oxy-Sorb Oxygen Absorbers for Food Storage, 100cc, 100-Pack
        4.2 out of 5 stars 474 customer reviews | 58 answered questions
        List Price: $14.99
        Price: $9.99
        FREE Shipping on orders over $25—or get FREE Two-Day Shipping with Amazon Prime
        You Save: $5.00 (33%)
        Sealed Package of 100 packets
        100 CC Oxygen Absorption Capacity
        Use in Food Storage, Vacuum Packaging, etc.
        Is food safe
        Use 3 Per #10 Can

  3. Savannah says:

    Hi, my partner has just made jerky and gone out fishing with no reception and I don’t know what to do! The jerky finished in the dehydrator last night while I was asleep. I woke up this morning and it’s still kinda saucy on the outside. I left it in the dehydrator today (he will be back late this afternoon) as I had to go to work.

    So, was it bad that it sat in the dehydrator (automatically turned off after timer ran out) all night?
    Does it matter that it’s still saucy on the outside?
    Should I have taken it out of the dehydrator?
    Will he will be able to put it back in the dehydrator and dry for longer if he wants to this afternoon?


    • Will says:

      Sounds like a lot going on over there! So there are a few things that I would make sure of before saying that the jerky is still good. If your partner heated the jerky to 160F close to the beginning of the drying process and the jerky did dry completely, it would be fine to stay in turned off dehydrator for a day. That is what making jerky is all about, having meat that does not need to be refrigerated. When drying, sometimes fat in the meat or marinade will make the outside of the jerky look “wet” or possibly in your instance, “saucy”. This is okay as well as long as the meat is dry on the inside. (This is why jerky is normally blotted with paper towels during drying to soak up extra marinade and fat) You can tell if the jerky is finished by bending a piece. If it bends and you see white fibers, it is dry and finished. So…. If the jerky was heated to 160F and the meat is dried, I would say it should be fine. However, if the jerky never reached 160F and it is not dried and needs to be dehydrated more, I would NOT eat it or dehydrate longer as it has been unfinished for too long. Better be safe than sorry! It is not worth getting sick over! Here is a link to the USDA’s website regarding Jerky Safety. Hope that helps!

  4. David Ranger says:

    Piggybacking on Jeanne’s question, how long will jerky last if a nitrite cure is used, AND you use vacuum sealed Foodsaver style bags?

    I’m a hunter, and would like to jerkyfy (new word) an entire deer, but I’m wondering if a full deer would keep long enough to be consumed. Thanks

    • Will says:

      Loving the new word (jerkyfy!). The USDA recommends keeping homemade jerky for 2 months so I do not want to recommend anything to much longer than that. If you freeze the jerky after using cure and vacuum sealing I would keep it up to about 6 months. A whole deer is a lot of jerky to make! It might be better to keep some steaks to chicken fry and a roast or two for some Sunday pot roasts. If you do a bunch of jerky, be sure to do several different recipes and use recipes you know you like. You don’t want to make a bunch of jerky only to find out you don’t like that recipe! Let me know how it turns out.

      • John Crosby says:

        We hunt here in NC on our own land and usually harvest 6 to 10 whitetail deer. I do all of the meat processing myself. For jerky I vacuum seal and freeze 6# packages of meat that I will thaw and slice for dehydrating as needed. When the jerky is finished I vacuum seal it in 6 oz packages. The frozen venison will be good for a couple of years if it lasts that long. The batches of jerky never last more than two months so long term storage is not an issue.

  5. Richard says:

    You mention Morton’s Tender Quick but you do not say how much to use. I am looking to give out Jerky to friends as Christmas gifts and I am not in control how they store it or how long they keep it, I would like the extra safety insurance. As always my Jerky will go into vacuum sealed bags a day after it is done drying.

    • Will says:

      I can’t think of a better Christmas present to friends than a bag of homemade jerky! Yum!!! So when it comes to cures, make sure to follow the directions on the package because not all curing salts are the same. The Hoosier Hill Farm Prague Powder #1 calls for 1/4 tsp per 1 pound of meat. (2 pounds of meat would require 1/2 tsp). Morton Tender Quick calls for 1 tbsp per 1 pound of meat. This was the amount they recommended when I used Morton Tender Quick. I like the Prague Powder #1 better though, and have exclusively used that for years now. Remember, always double check what the package says before using a cure and ONLY use the amounts that product recommends.

  6. Wade says:

    Hey, good article, but… What if you keep the jerky in the fridge? Say, homemade jerky (no curing) in heavy duty ziplock storage bags

    • Will says:

      I would expect the jerky to last about 10 to 14 days in the fridge without cure. It also depends on how dry you dried your jerky. The dryer the jerky, the longer it will last. Make sure to allow the jerky to cool before storing in the ziplock bags.

  7. Rafi Kristall-Weiss says:

    Hey thank you so much for all this amazing information! I have the nesco snackmaster and was wondering if there was anyway of making biltong in the machine. Thank you for all your help!

    • Will says:

      Glad I can help! I have never made Biltong before but have seen it in a couple of my jerky books. In the books I have it mentions that you CAN dry it in a dehydrator. Since it is very thick, it does take longer to dry and is not dried all the way through like American jerky. You can check out more information on Biltong, including some recipes, in Pamela Braun’s book : Jerky Everything

  8. dave says:

    Thanks for all the info. Learning all I can be I start. How do you test for the 160 degree? I get doing it with the hotdog, but on a thin cut of meat? A temp gun maybe?

    • Will says:

      Great question. So one way to test if the meat has reached 160F is by putting a thermometer between a folded piece of beef/jerky. This is the best way I know of testing the internal temperature. I would assume a temp gun would only tell you the surface temp of the meat, not the internal temp. Hope this helps!

    • Ben Glover says:

      My Round Dehydrator from Walmart has 155 on it and I usually do it from 7-8PM til same time in the AM and it is dried. But I make the dry kind as I do not like the rubbery texture or flavor. Use Moores sauce in a gallon bag full about 3lb of meat for 3 days in Fridge. Pull outspread on racks then sprinkle a mixture of Season salt, Pepper, a little Garlic, Meat tenderizer (NOMSG). Works everytime. Usually, I get around 9-10 lbs and rotate putting in Moores 3 days pull it off rack and put another batch in for 3 days. I love this stuff!!

  9. Jesse says:

    Hey Master of Jerk!

    I’m looking to jerkyfy some lean moose meat (sliced in a smoker) and some even leaner caribou meat (ground meat, in a dehydrator). I’m kind of on the fence about using anything with sodium nitrites for curing – the whole “use too little and bacteria can grow and use too much you can poison someone” thing is freakin me out a little. Is there any substitutes I can use along with plain salt in order to get a longer shelf life out of my homemade jerky?

    • Will says:

      Hey Jesse. I wouldn’t worry about poisoning anyone when using curing salt. As long as you follow the directions on the product; which is normally something like “use 1 tsp per 5lbs of meat” you will be fine. It’s kinda hard to mess up. Using cure is actually a lot safer when combating potential bacteria than not using it and only drying with salt. The only other substitute I see companies using to help preserve jerky is celery powder. Celery powder is high in Nitrates, just naturally occurring. That is why you see store bought jerky say “no nitrates or nitrites added” but then have a statement directly under it stating “except those that naturally occur in celery powder”. I am not sure how they measure how much to use though when making jerky. I would recommend just going with FDA approved cure such as the Prague Powder listed above, and follow the directions.

  10. Jim D says:

    Hi Will. I’m a brother oilfield hand, retired after 36 years as a directional driller. Most of my career was international, but am now at home here in Point Venture, just up the lake from you I like your blog! I have made several batches following your recipes, and all have turned out awesome. I generally don’t have to worry much about how long I can store it as it never lasts long enough to spoil…. My question is: ever tried fish? I have smoked stripers and they were great. Now considering drying some good old lake travis bass. When I was in west africa, they used to dry fish by catching small ones and tossing them whole up on the tin roof to dry in the sun. That was a mess, but they ate it and liked it. I don’t want to go that route, so wondering if you have any insights. Stay good. Jim

    • Will says:

      Hey Jim, thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you like the recipes. It’s always nice hearing from a fellow Oilfield hand. I have not tried fish but am hoping to very soon. I went fishing in Alaska with my father this year and have some Salmon in my freezer I am hoping to make into jerky. (I Had some amazing salmon jerky I bought at a local farmers market near Anchorage) All the research I have seen on fish jerky is that it is best to do in a smoker. I am going to try and make it like I do beef jerky in my smoker. I will document and take pictures when I make the fish jerky to put on the site. I agree with you, I will NOT be tossing it on my roof to dry in the sun… Ha.

  11. Craig says:


    I like my jerky more moist. I brine eye of round or strip steak for 24 hours, then transfer it to a 30 inch masterbuilt at 210 degrees for 2 hours. I smoke it mostly closed. It makes for a great tender and moist jerky, but how long will it be good in the fridge/freezer for? I keep the jerky in the fridge since it has more moisture, but how long would it be good sitting out for. (say at an event, etc) and after sitting out, would it be fine to put back in the fridge and eat over a few days?

    • Will says:

      I would think that even though it has a little more moisture, as long as you keep it in the fridge it should last about a week. I also wouldn’t think leaving some out for a couple hours at a party for people then putting it back in the fridge would do much harm. Just make sure to look for mold when making moist jerky, it will grow A LOT faster than if you had really dried jerky.

  12. david p. says:

    I have used ziplock bags to store food for years. But I use one extra step. Lay the bag flat on the counter and get as much air out. Then stick a straw in one corner, zip it up to the straw and suck out the air and pull out the straw quickly and seal the bag. You will be amazed.

    • Will says:

      I do not put them in my bags when I vacuum pack my jerky, but I do use these Oxygen Absorbers when I am just storing shortly in ziplock bags. You have to keep the unused packets in either a sealed mason jar or vacuum seal the container again.

  13. Leroy Terry says:

    Have been making jerky in a smoker for a long time. Trying to copy taste of Jack Lund’s Teriyaki flavor. I have got it down pretty close. I do differ with you on drying time in my Master built smoker. I smoke at 170 for only 2 hours, (smoke for only one). It comes out tender and perfect. I went 4 hours once and had to throw it out. I have checked and my temp. Is correct. I use eye of round.

    • Will says:

      Wow, I am very surprised that your jerky is done in 2 hours. Mine normally takes anywhere from 4 to 7 in my Master Built Smoker. As long as it is to your liking and tastes good!

  14. Chris Cringle says:

    I’m a beginner to jerky making and was wondering if you ever considered using silica pouches to preserve jerky longer. Obviously the food grade pouches purchased on amazon. I have a vacuum sealer and was going to throw a pouch into the already dried jerky. What do you think?

    • Will says:

      Hey Chris! Welcome to the world of jerky making. You can totally add oxygen absorbers to your packaging to help your jerky last longer. I thought I already had that on this page with a link to amazon. It must have just been a response to someones similar comment in the past. I went ahead and added it to the page. Thanks for the heads up!

  15. Mike H says:

    6-8 months shelf life is easily obtainable with venison jerky. Get yourself a FiZZ GiZ or other CO₂ dispenser. Pack Mason jars with jerky. Using your FiZZ GiZ dispenser, purge all the air from the headspace, replacing it with pure anhydrous CO₂ (see https://youtu.be/MSIYZu-v7WI for demo). Tighten closure on jar snug enough to form a good seal. Anytime you open it to grab yourself a chew, flush the air from the headspace again before closing.

    This preservation technique works for all types of dry goods (nuts, crackers, cookies, dried beans, rice, oats, flour, meal, coffee, etc). CO₂ is much more easily accessible than nitrogen.

  16. Jason says:

    Just getting ready to make my very first batch of jerky. Have a new elect smoker. Have a recipe from a friend but I doctored it a little. Going to smoke with pecan and a little mesquite mixed in. Marinating for about 16 hours. Using a 3lb eye of round. Will let you know how it turns out.

  17. Levi says:

    I noticed all of the recipes on this site say to use curing salt #1 but your article says it includes Sodium Nitrate, which is only an ingredient in curing salt #2). So I’m curious, do you use a curing salt that has Sodium Nitrate in it and would be #2 or are you using a curing salt #1 that doesn’t have Sodium Nitrate?

    Thank you.

    • Will says:

      Thanks for pointing out where I mentioned the Sodium Nitrate, I corrected it. It is Prague Powder #1 which is only 6.25% Sodium Nitrite and 93.75% Salt.

  18. David Buluku says:

    If I bought my beef jerky in a sealed bag and open it, how long will it last with some refrigeration in a ziplock?

    • Jim says:

      Hi Will. David. It’s Jim from Austin. I subscribed a couple of years ago. If you remember, I’m the retired directional hand. I’m gonna jump in to the discussion on preservation of jerky.

      Last few years I made a complete deer into jerky totaling probably 75 lbs of meat each time. I give it to friends, and my kids eat it like candy. I would feel horrible if I made someone sick, so here’s the precautions I take.

      I dress the deer immediately, quarter it, and get on ice. I wash everything good and use plastic gloves. Once I get it home, I cut the strips off the bone, once again using plastic gloves and clean utensils, and put in 1 gal zip lock bags. I then freeze the meat for a minimum of 2 weeks. I’ve read this is a good way to eliminate any parasites.

      When I’m ready to dehydrate and make jerky, I thaw a batch in the refrigerator. I mix up the marinade, using prague powder as per the instructions. (It’s readily available on Amazon), marinating overnight in the fridge.

      I cure the jerky in my Nesco dehydrator at 165 degrees, keeping an eye on it until it’s about where I want it. I’ve never had to go over about 18 hours. Once it’s done, I blot off any oils and for put it into a 200 degree oven for about 10 minutes, just to make doubly sure it gets into that 165 to 170 degree range.

      Once it’s cooled, I vacuum package pint sized servings with my trusty seal-a-meal. I label it with the recipe and date, and at that point it’s ready to give away. A pint is about 10 or 12 nice pieces which generally doesn’t last long and is a good size batch.

      When I have plenty, I have frozen the vacuum sealed packages for over a year and they are as good as day one when thawed. Using these precautions I haven’t had any go bad at all.

      As a funny side note, I gave a bag of jerky to a friends five year old son. The next time they stoped by, he asked if I had any more jerky, especially the really really chewy pieces. When I asked his dad what that meant, apparently one piece I gave must have had a piece of ligament or sinew in it, and the boy chewed on that for a full day. So next batch I’ll make sure there’s some sinew left in for that youngun.

      • Will says:

        Yeah man. Hope everything is going well in Austin. I moved a while ago out to Colorado. Still miss ATX a little bit… Thanks for the info man. That’s a lot of deer jerky. I’m hoping to get some venison this year for jerky. It is always a sad year when I don’t harvest a deer. Jerky with sinew sounds horrible… Ha.

  19. Jon says:

    Hi Will,

    I have been enjoying your website in preparing to make my first batch of jerky. I see lots of questions regarding how long the jerky will store under x,y and z conditions. One question I have not seen, and it may be because its a dumb question, is what happens to jerky when it “turns”? How can you tell if you have waited too long?

    • Will says:

      That’s actually a great question Jon. Jerky is bad when you start seeing mold. If you start seeing mold, throw out the batch of jerky. Hopefully you won’t let your jerky last that long and you will already have eaten it all! Now be careful to not mistake salt deposits for mold. When you dry jerky, that first or second day after drying you might see white clumps on the jerky. This happens when your marinade evaporates and the salt is no longer dissolved. It will look like salt and not mold. So don’t accidentally throw out some good jerky!

  20. Amanda says:

    Hi Will, I will be making jerkey for the first time as Holiday gifts, I plan on storing in canning jars as I have tons of them, plus I think it will look nice.
    Where would I find food grade silica?

  21. Lou Balestriere says:

    Hi Will,

    Stumbled across this gem of a website. Thanks for this invaluable info. I took my first stab at jerky in my dehydrator and it came out terrific.

    Couple questions though. I used a 3 lb top round roast and sliced against the grain. After adding a dry marinate, I dehydrated at 160 degrees for 4.5 hours.

    Seemed properly dried and very tasty. However, it was unexpectedly tough & chewy. Would you think that’s because it was over/under dried?

    If over dried, it makes the real issue more interesting. After letting the jerky cool for several hours on a paper bag lined with paper towels on both the top and bottom I stored in a ziploc bag with a couple drying packets inside.

    After only 5 days the jerky started getting spotty with white powdery mold so had to toss it.

    Any comments about the texture toughness and any suggestions about why it may have molded so quickly and what to do about it not happening so quickly in the future?

    Thanks again,

    • Will says:

      Hey Lou! If you like the jerky even more tender than just slicing against the grain, use a meat mallet to pound the meat before marinating. It sounds like you did everything right with drying and putting in ziplock bags. To make it last longer there are a couple of things you can do. Using curing salt would be the best way to make it last longer. Another would be to store it in the refrigerator. I have found that without cure and not storing in the fridge, the jerky only lasts about a week.

  22. Mary Moosjazz says:

    Hi Will,
    I’m making my first batch of jerky for a Christmas gift, but want to make it as organic and healthy as possible, without using nitrites. I also have to be careful with salt usage because it causes migraines. Might be a silly question, but is salt necessary? If it is, what’s the minimum amount I can get away with using per pound of beef?
    I noticed someone mentioned celery powder so I will look into that possibility too.
    Thanks for all your tips!

    • Will says:

      Hey Mary. You do not have to use curing salt (nitrites) or much salt, but it will affect the amount of time the jerky will stay good. Salt helps prevent bacteria growth and I would recommend adding at least some (1/2 tsp per lb). If you don’t use salt, I recommend storing it in the fridge or vacuum packing it to get all the air out of the package. Celery powder does help jerky keep longer, this is because it contains nitrites.

      • Mary Moosjazz says:

        Thanks Will. I was just researching celery powder, some say celery juice (rather than powder) apparently has naturally occurring nitrates that turn into nitrites, but end up being at a greater level than just using nitrites in the first place. I think I will go with the salt. I appreciate your feedback!

  23. Elizabeth says:

    I made homemade venison jerky and planned on sending it over seas to my boyfriend in Afghanistan. I just made it recently and decided to keep it in the fridge for a few days. Will it be safe to vacuum seal it and ship it after I’ve removed it from the fridge?

    • Will says:

      That sounds like a great present Elizabeth! I don’t see why not. You might want to let it warm to room temperature before vacuum packing it to make sure there isn’t any moisture from the cool environment of the fridge. Not sure if you did or not, but I would make jerky with Curing Salt if I was going to send it over seas. It will make sure that it lasts a long time and survive the trip.

  24. Jason says:


    I’m planning for a long distance hike and would like to re-package commercial jerky bought in bulk packages into individual servings as a part of my nutrition plan. Another reason why I’d like to do this is so my wife can just grab however many individual packages I need and ship them to me without having to do the work of splitting up a bigger bag first. How long would commercial jerky last if it is re-packaged immediately after opening into either zip-lock bags or vacuum sealed bags?

    • Will says:

      Most packages say to eat it within a couple days of opening. These packages are normally filled with nitrogen to rid the packages of oxygen. If you open and store in a ziplock bag, they will probably be good for about a week or two. The best thing to do would be vacuum seal it to get rid of all the oxygen again. I would think it would last a couple months if it was vacuum sealed.

  25. Truong says:

    Hi Will recently Ive had a problem of mold growing on my jerky. Mu first batches were not an issue. However the past few batches have seen mold growing about a week from the drying date. I have noticed that it seems to occur when my batches were a little more “wet”. Do you think it’s from excess moisture? How do you think I can prevent this problem. I’d really like to not have to rush and eat my jerky. Thanks

  26. Max says:


    I made some research on beef jerky and storage and a lot of blog or comments that pops alot with air tight storage is the growth of bacteria C.Botulinum. C.Botulinu, grows in low oxygen environment. Does Prague Powder 1 will completely prevent that and i normaly dry my jerky around 190-200

    thanks 🙂

    • Will says:

      Prague Powder won’t completely eliminate any bacteria from growing on your jerky, It won’t last forever. It will make your jerky last a lot longer than not having it at all. I am sure some bacteria will grow in low oxygen settings, but it’s much better than having a lot of oxygen where more bacteria is prone to grow. If you want your jerky to last a long time, use PP #1 and vacuum package the jerky.

    • Truong Nguyen says:

      Hi Max, I’m a registered dietitian with interest in food science. I can tell you that clostridium botulinum is not something you should stress out over too much when it comes to beef jerky. C. Botulinum is an anaerobic bacteria meaning it usually grows in environments without oxygen, for example canned goods. Hence, home canning can be dangerous if not done properly. Most likely e. Coli is what one would encounter when making beef jerky and obviously curing salt will inhibit growth. However, e coli is a type of bacteria that is not tolerant to even low salt concentrations, so unless you’re marinating with no salt, there’s very little risk of that either. Hope I was able to provide some insight for you.

  27. Formica says:

    Hi Will,

    Great site! I know this is an old thread but I wanted to get a clear answer so hopefully you’ll see this 🙂

    When using Prague Powder #1, aka pink salt, how much should be used per pound of meat (before drying)? I think based on the comments I see here, it’s one half teaspoon per pound of meat. Is that correct?

    Also, should I subtract the same amount of normal salt from the recipe if it calls for it?

    Thank you so much for the site, I just made a new friend who loves jerky and I want to surprise them. I also have a convection oven with a dehydrate setting and many cooling racks, so I’m pretty sure I’ve got all the gear I need already!

    • Will says:

      Curing salt is normally 1tsp per 5lbs of meat. So when making 1lb, use about 1/4tsp. Yes, you can just subtract a 1/4tsp of sea salt from the recipe if you add 1/4 curing salt.

  28. Margaret Lamb says:

    Hello Will!
    Just found your site and find it extremely helpful. I am attempting my first batch of Jerkifyed (lol) Deer. I plan on drying it on a baking sheet while turning occasionally for even dryness. I want it to be slightly moist and tender. How long do you think I should dry around 3lbs of jerky after tenderising, then marinating? (Can it marinate for longer than a day?)
    Also if I use a vacuum sealer for pint jars and place a silica pack in each one, do you think it would stay fresh even longer?
    TY so much!

    • Will says:

      Exciting stuff Margaret! I would start checking it at 3 hours of drying. You can definitely marinate longer than 24 hours, I just normally can’t wait longer than that to start drying it! The silica packs and vacuum sealing REALLY helps keep for several months. I have never used a pint jar vacuum sealing, but have eaten jerky 4 months after bag vacuum sealing and keeping in the fridge.

  29. Terry H. Traina says:

    Hi Will,
    Thank you for your site, I made one of your recipes and loved it, So did my children. now I get dinner invites with a P.S. ” bring Jerky”. You’re a hero. I am 70yr veteran and didn’t get a lot of invites till now.

  30. Doc Jones says:

    If a recipe calls for a certain amount of salt, can I just replace that with curing salt, or should I subtract the cure used from the total amount of salt? I guess the real question would be… Is the Nitrite/Salt ratio critical, or just the total amout of nitrite per pound (or ton) of meat?

    • Will says:

      Do not replace all of the salt with curing salt. Using too much cure can be dangerous. If a 1lb beef jerky recipe calls for 1tsp of salt and you want to use curing salt as well. Use 3/4tsp of regular salt and 1/4tsp of curing salt.

  31. Jeff Laird says:

    Hey Will
    I have been making Jerky for about a year now and love the fact that I can make really good jerky at a fraction of the cost. I have a few flavors pretty much dialed in and wanted to figure out the best way to store it. I typically use a commercial spice mix and cure which has worked very well for me. The Jerky is fantastic!!! I prefer making larger batches (spending a Sunday with beef, beer and the smoker!) so would like to extend shelf life. In addition to the cure, I bought commercial oxygen absorbers and those food grade silver bags to store it in but noticed that my vac sealer doesn’t work with those bags so not sure how that will affect shelf life. Also, I find that when I use the vac sealer with the standard rolls or bags, there is a bit of a plasticky (is that a word?) taste. Any thoughts??

    • Will says:

      A day with a smoker, beer, and jerky is never a bad day Jeff! Ha. I have not experienced the plastic taste when using my vacuum sealer. I have never tried to use the food grade silver bags either, never really had the need. If there is oxygen in them, I don’t think they are going to help that much. Other than trying to find a tank of nitrogen to flush your food grade silver bags to eliminate oxygen, I’m not sure what else you can do other than trying a different brand of vac bags.

    • ChrisD says:

      Not to sound like a prepper…but…Mylar bags can NOT be vacuum sealed (the inner surface is too smooth). Their primary purpose is to seal out oxygen and light. Although, if you’re vacuum sealer has a setting to seal without vacuum usually you can use that to seal the bags. (If it doesn’t I’ve heard stories about people using irons, and even a couple guys using their wives hair straightening irons…lol…or you can buy a machine to seal them.)….If you used the proper sized O2 absorbers for the size of bag you used (300cc for gallons and 50cc for quarts and pints) and got a tight seal to keep air out you should be fine (although I would still use the jerky within a relatively short period of time.) Remember oxygen is only about 20% of air (with the remainder being about 78% nitrogen and the other 2% being small amounts of other gases) and O2 absorbers ONLY remove oxygen, so don’t expect a mylar bag to look like it’s been vacuum sealed (if you forced enough air out of the bag before you sealed it, it might, but NOT always). Also, O2 absorbers will absorb oxygen out of room air (and they only hold so much), so, it’s best to leave them sealed up as long as possible, and, reseal the left overs under vacuum as soon as possible. I hope this helped…

  32. Judy Dutruch says:

    I want to make jerky with very lean ground meat. Also, I want it to be as natural as possible without additives that could harm my son, who loves jerky but is on a special diet. Do you happen to have an awesome recipe using ground meat that I could try?

    • Will says:

      I have a couple recipes for ground meat on my recipe page. Also, you can make just about any of my recipes with ground meat, just reduce the liquid ingredients respectively to about 1/4 cup. Let me know which one you try and how it turns out!

  33. Matt says:

    Hi, first time jerky maker here. I have a couple pounds of bison in the dehydrator now and am reading up on finishing and storing it. You mentioned to cool fully and store in a paper bag for a day or two in order to remove any residual moisture. Should the paper bag go in the fridge or stay at room temp? I look forward to trying more of your recipes! Thanks!

  34. Jimbo says:

    Hi Will,
    How long will cured jerky at room temperature last if I used fatty beef? I love the taste of fat in the beef, but everyone says it will go rancid. Thing is though, beef jerky only lasts about two to three days in my household. Would it not go bad if I refrigerated it during that time and/or used oxygen absorbers? I want to save money by making jerky at home, but I can’t seem to duplicate the tenderness of Jack Link’s tender cuts/steak cuts. Please help!

    • Will says:

      Jerky doesn’t last long in my house either! Haha. 3-5 days storing fatty jerky should be fine, definitely if it’s in the fridge. I am trying to figure out how they make their jerky extremely tender. As soon as I figure it out I will make sure to let everyone know!

  35. Morris Jaskula says:

    Im not sure where some of you are getting you misinformation about how long jerky will last.
    I shot a moos in 2009 and I had some leg meat sliced thin for making jerky, withing 2 months of killing the beast I was making jerky–this was January of 2010.I still have a large 1 gallon ZipLoc baggie in the refer in my garage that I get into every so often.
    I even invite friends to try it and they rave about how good it is–then I tell them how old it is and most dont believe it but want more. Yep–right now it is 10 1/2 years old and still delicious.
    It has never been frozen after jerking it,sooooooooooooo its up to you how long you keep it.
    I am a sanitation nut, I ran several meat departments in California and since moving to North Idaho I have a complete butcher shop in my garage and a walk in cooler so I am no novice to the meat industry.
    I use what I cal a sweet / hot Teriyaki flavored brine.

  36. Nancy says:

    Hi my name is Nancy and my father purchased me beef jerky about a week ago and it has been unopened I’m a zip lock bag. I just got my tonsils taken out and probably can’t eat it until about 3 weeks. I’m afraid I might not be able to eat it by then 🙁 will I or should I avoid the waste and have my boyfriend eat it?

    • Will says:

      If it was purchased I’m guessing the ziplock bag is also vacuum sealed and will stay good for a long time, no need to eat now. You should be able to tell if it is vacuum sealed because it will require you to peel the top inch of the packaging from one side to the other, then open the ziplock part of the bag. There should be an eat by date on the package as well. If it is not in a ziplock bag that is also vacuum sealed, don’t let it sit around for 3 weeks, let your boyfriend enjoy it!

  37. Bernadette Holzer says:

    Hi Will! I’m fairly new to jerky making. I’ve made it with beef once, years ago, and have yet to attempt venison jerky. I remember many summers in years past, chewing bags full of spicy deer jerky with good friend around campfires. Great memories. I’d love to learn how to do it myself now, and pass it down to my daughter. Blessedly, we have a full freezer of deer meet this winter… ready to be turned into delicious jerky… which is my favorite thing ever! I’ve done a lot of online research… and finally found your site! It’s the best! Thank you for sharing your art, and I am so looking forwatd to trying out some of the recipes you have collected. I have appreciated reading your jerky-making tips, too. Wish me luck… on to jerky land! <3

    • Will says:

      I’m glad you stumbled upon the site Bernadette! That full freezer will taste mighty good as jerky!!! Have fun and let me know how your venison jerky turns out.

  38. Brian says:

    Hi Will,
    Great information here on this website – thanks! I have a question about the Prague Powder #1 curing process. Do you just add it to your marinade and mix it all together or do you sprinkle it on the meat and let it sit on there for a day or so before you add the rest of your marinade? Thanks, I greatly appreciate your help!

  39. Morris Jaskula says:

    Im not Will and I dont know why I got this but I have been making jerky for yeeeeeeeears and have NEVER used Prague powder.
    Its not necessary–just a preservative.
    I had made some Moose jerky several years ago and a small Baggy got lost in my garage refer and was discovered 4 years later–it tasted just fine—there is so much salt in the Teriyaki sauce and the Soy sauce that nothing else is necessary.

  40. Morris Jaskula says:

    Like I said–mine was in refrigeration all that time–NOT FROZEN just refer–I and several of my friends ate it and we are still here and healthy.
    Too many people are paranoid about time you can store stuff–same with code dates on products–they are there to protect the manufacturers and are not correct.

  41. Barry Rosen says:

    Hey Will, love you’re website! You’re very passionate and I’ve learned a ton!
    Just want to clarify. If I decide not to use cure and I vacuum seal my jerky directly out of the dehydrator. Does the jerky still have a shelf life of 1-2 months in the fridge?

    • Will says:

      Thanks Barry! If you don’t use cure and vacuum seal, yes, I would expect 1-2 months of shelf life in the fridge. Definitely wait until the jerky has completely cooled to room temperature before vacuum sealing.

  42. MarkyMark says:

    Hey there Will, great, informative read. I just have a couple of questions.

    When you say that store bought jerky should last about a year, is this if it were opened and left at room temperature in its given ziplock bag?

    Also, I noticed that the brand of beef jerky I bought recently from Costco does not have any preservatives (it states this). The ingredients are as follows: Grass Fed Beef, Brown Sugar, Water, Sea Salt, Vinegar, Beef Stock, Natural Smoke Flavor, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper, Apple Juice Concentrate, Cultured Celery Powder, and Onion Powder.

    I just tried it after it had been sitting in the pantry for about a month, and it still tastes great (the exact same as it did when I originally opened it, actually). Is it still safe to eat, and how long? Also, what is the reasoning if there are no preservatives?


    • Will says:

      Normally the package will say on there to eat it within 7 days after opening. The original packages are usually vacuum sealed, flushed with nitrogen to expel oxygen from the bag, and also contain an oxygen absorption packet which allows them to last up to a year or longer on the shelf before being open. Once open, follow the directions on the bag. The jerky you are buying says that it does not contain any preservatives, that is not entirely accurate. Curing salt contains sodium nitrite, this is what preserves the meat. Celery juice powder also contains sodium nitrite, which preserves the meat the same way. The reason they don’t say that it is cured is because they are not allowed to under federal regulations. But almost ALL meat that you find in the store that says it is ‘uncured’ contains celery juice powder. Bacon, Ham, Jerky, Cold Cuts, Hot Dogs…. They all contain CJP and claim no added nitrites which people think is more healthy. It’s the same as cured bacon, they just aren’t allowed to label it that way since they are using a natural curing agent, which is actually a good selling point for those companies. You can buy Celery Juice Powder online to use in your homemade jerky as well.

      • MarkyMark says:

        Thanks for the detailed response! It says, ” For optimal taste and freshness, consume within 3 days,”. I have another brand that says the same tging. It is just odd because after weeks of them being opened, I have always gone back and had the rest without any issues, and the taste and freshness were as if or almost as if I just opened the bag.

        In regards to the ‘hidden’ preservatives, I would have never known. It makes logical sense, but I definitely wouldn’t have come to that conclusion on my own!

      • MarkyMark says:

        I forgot to add that none of the jerky I have ever bought has been vacuum sealed. I’m not sure why, it makes much more sense.

  43. Aaron says:

    Hi Will, I just started making beef jerky and your site is great. I also got a vacuum sealer and have been putting the beef jerky in that. It seems to be pulling oil out of the beef jerky in the bag. Am I just not waiting long enough for it to cool down?

    • Will says:

      It depends on how dry you made the jerky and what recipe you use as well. Some recipes that call for honey will tend to have a sticky outside even when they are finished. This could result in the vacuum sealer pulling some liquid out of the dried pieces. If you allow it to cool down for an hour or 2 at room temperature, they should be fine to vacuum seal. Don’t be to worried about it.

  44. MARY TRUJILLO says:

    I want to be able to store my jerky for emergency use. Ya k oa like most preppers would any suggestion. This year and next may be really hard so want to store as long as possible

  45. Luke says:


    Quick question from someone who knows more about making jerky then i do.

    I am looking to make longer lasting jerky. I intend to make jerky, and put it in airtight bags with an oxygen absorber. I am having a really hare time on the internet finding out how to use curing salt or salt with nitrate to extend the shelf life.

    At what point to i use the curing salt? Would i cut up the beef, put in the curing salt (1 tea spoon per 5 pounds) and let it sit for 24 hours. Then marinade it and dehydrate it?

    Also, how long should it last if i use nitrate and bags with no oxygen?

    Any info you could provide would be very much appreicated.

    Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.